Black Lives Matter. This phrase states the obvious, but, it must be said aloud on this day and in this moment because of centuries of hatred and violence enacted on Black people, families, and communities in the United States. Just as we state that Black Lives Matter, we say the names of some of those who recently were brutally killed: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, David McAtee. Those are just the most recent, known, individuals connected through time to Black lives taken through violent anti-Blackness and white supremacy. There are also far too many Black people who have died at the hands of police officers whose names we do not know. Our hearts break for their families and all who are suffering from their deaths. We feel outrage and distress that Black people have to fear for their own and their loved ones’ lives as they go about their daily routines. This country has failed to grapple with and address structural racism. We must not remain silent.
As a school of education, we are committed to going beyond words to take action. We will change what we are doing in the School of Education so that we can stop anti-Black violence. We commit to change at the interpersonal, the institutional, and the ideological level.
Some ways we will take action include the following. We will work together over the next year to develop more strategies.
- At the interpersonal level, we will each make a commitment to anti-racist education that addresses anti-Blackness and other forms of racism and oppression. As faculty, staff, and students, we will challenge anti-Blackness and dismantle white supremacy in our research, teaching, daily operations, and community engagement. We call for instructors to include and center Black voices and Black humanity in reading materials and lessons. We call for researchers to engage in citational justice by consistently citing and centering Black voices, both inside and outside of academia.
- At the institutional level, we will make a commitment as a school to continue to examine our interactions and work through the framework developed by the Education Deans for Justice and Equity. This framework—developed by Schools of Education across the US—provides a tool for organizing collective action for justice from hiring practices to funding strategies and ways of working in solidarity with communities to advance racial justice. We will use the framework to help us put our values into practice and engage in ongoing, critical analysis of how power works in our school to support and impede our work. We acknowledge the anti-Black racism and daily violence that students at CU Boulder and in the School of Education experience and we commit to listen and work to change the structures that support this climate and these actions.
- At the ideological level, we will develop practices that enable us to center Black voices and perspectives and to appreciate Black brilliance, along with the ways in which Black communities have suffered. One way we will do this is through organizing a monthly Black Scholars Series where we invite Black educational scholars, activists, community organizers and youth, including those in our own community, to share their work so that we can learn together.
As scholars, teachers, and activists, we stand in the midst of a crisis fueled and bolstered by state-sanctioned violence against Black people. But, as Bettina Love wisely suggests, “in the midst of a world crisis, those of us who can dream must dream. And after we dream, we must demand and act.” The School of Education is a space for dreaming, for trying and testing ideas, for imagining new possibilities. We are also a space for doing, engaging, learning and deepening our understandings. We must allow ourselves to dream and imagine a different future. But we also need to do more than that. We must demand a commitment to racial justice and educational freedom. We must act in ways that acknowledge the horrors of the past and present and work toward a more just future.